Why Diversity in Education, Tech and Entrepreneurship Matter
Cozad New Venture Competition (CNVC), offers students interested in innovation and entrepreneurship the opportunity to explore the skills necessary to succeed not only in the startup community but all facets of life.
I had the pleasure of teaming up with Mesh++ as we embarked on a very long journey. The venture into entrepreneurship is often challenging, and this competition was nothing less. Being able to communicate our company’s value proposition was an integral part of our success. As a result, we were awarded the $10,000 Dr. Paul Magelli Innovation Award for being the “startup team that has demonstrated its potential to grow and create significant value as an entrepreneurial venture.”
As someone who’s personally been impacted by Dr. Magelli, this award was well received. I was introduced to Dr. Magelli by Jalen Coleman-Lands in the College of Business’ Illinois Business Consulting (IBC) office, right before my behavioral interview to join the consulting organization. After seeing a plaque of the founder on the wall, I quickly realized I was actually talking to the founder of IBC himself. After expressing my interest in joining IBC and starting a consulting organization for minorities, his eyes lit up.
Dr. Magelli was not only a strong advocate for students and entrepreneurship, but for diversity & inclusion as well. My mentor told me that Dr. Magelli personally recruited him to join the MBA program 15 years ago. If I wasn’t already in a graduate business program, he probably would’ve done the same to me.
He talked and I just listened, amazed at the wisdom he was bestowing upon me. He talked about the lack of diversity in business programs and how it transfers to the lack of diversity in corporations. He talked about the need for more programs centered around practicing diversity, instead of preaching it. He even talked about the lack of diversity in the MBA program, where there are currently only TWO African-Americans in the program. He spent his life solving these problems, and he challenged me to do something about it.
Starting a new venture is no easy task. Doing so while in college is even more complicated. You often hear stories about CEOs dropping out of college to start their businesses, or starting after being employed for some years. Regardless of what route you take to entrepreneurship, you want to be surrounded with as much resources as possible to lift your venture off the ground. Whether this is participating in competitions, joining an accelerator/incubator or simply just finding a mentor, it truly takes a village to raise a child.
Similar to our life ventures, it is important to build a community around yourself and your goals. You’re never too old, nor too wise for mentorship. Through this entire competition, we’ve received advice and guidance from people who truly believe in our team and the technology. With the amount of resources allocated to supporting students & their entrepreneurial ventures, it is important for students, especially minorities, to take advantages of these early opportunities to bring value to a business.
Earlier this year, I asked the CEO of very successful company what he wish he would’ve done while still in school. His answer was to apply everything that he was learning immediately. This was the purpose of Dr. Magelli’s vision of experiential learning. Being able to provide students with experience, as well as companies and organizations with top-notch consulting services. He truly believed the value that students bring and tapped into their potential.
You can be surrounded with the resources, but the application of your knowledge and the execution of your strategy is what will make your breakthrough happen. Don’t wait for investors to come to you, go to them. Don’t wait for that first job or internship to begin applying your knowledge. Get Active Now! Tomorrow may be too late. Dr. Magelli inspired me in more ways than I can write about. It is through this inspiration and motivation that I dove head first into entrprenuership, and it’s been the best decision of my life.
I hope to continue to live out Dr. Magelli’s creed and provide mentorship to students, and consulting services to entrepreneurs and businesses. He told me to go after my dreams, and it’s truly a passion of mine to help and motivate others to do the same. That’s how I “earn the day”.
Thank you Dr. Magelli, for everything including the legacy you leave behind.
Keep Inspiring Dreams,